Thursday, July 29, 2004

OK it's a bit of an extreme way to get an opponent, but Gavin's appendicitis means that I now have a captive gaming partner at home. He can't move very fast you see, because of the stitches. Last night he was unable to get up before I had set up the Icehouse pieces for a game of HomeWorlds. Played it twice, capturing his home system with a big red star cruiser both times, then, desperate for revenge, Gav challenged me to Scrabble. It was a tough struggle - he got an early lead which I clawed back in the middle game, but had it snatched away by a 48 point power-play from Gav. Good fun. No rude words either, unusually.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Gavin got through his latest medical crisis. I spent most of yesterday in the East End of London, sitting beside his bed of pain at Newham General Hospital. After many delays he was finally wheeled into theatre at 4pm, and was out again by 6. What amazed me was how the operation produced an instant improvement - he was almost immediately back to his old chatty self, in spite of having a fresh 2in incision in his abdomen.
Full marks to his boozy friends, who turned out in force at his bedside - James, Steve, Nicky and various others I didn't recognize.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Kids! Who'd have them? After an exhausting few weeks I had pencilled in tomorrow as a much-needed day of rest and recuperation. But breaking news: Gavin is having an emergency appendectomy at Newham General Hospital tonight. So my day of recuperation will be spent rushing down to the East End to mop his brow etc.

And the reason I had to look for a new home for my bank details, is that the screen of my Psion 5mx just blew up again - for the third time. Enough is enough. It was a wonderful little machine in its heyday, and looked after me for about 6 years, but I've become become unwilling to shell out another £100 to repair the screen every time it goes. Fortunately it still works if you hold the clamshell open about an inch, which is uncomfortable for prolonged use, but gave me enough visibility to do what was necessary to get my vital data off it.
I know it's very uncool to blow the trumpet for a Microsoft product. But I've just started using Microsoft Money. Within the first week I have been made aware of about £75 sitting in my current account that I was unaware of. I'm still on an evaluation copy, but when I buy it it will cost me about £20. So it's already paid for itself 3 times over.....

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Sitting at work writing scripts, listening to The Huckleberries and feeling homesick for Salisbury.......

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Fantastic post from Maggi Dawn on the Trinity and worship (via Jonny Baker):

If a relational understanding of the Trinity is the context of our coming to worship, there is no longer a need to please or impress God in order for him to bless us with his presence. We do not need to create, as it were, a good enough party to wake God up and make him think he might join us. It's quite the other way around. The Trinity are already having a party of their own. There they are, communicating, loving, worshipping, laughing, dancing, always and forever, without a break. Grace, love and adoration flows constantly between the Godhead. And, if you look again at Rublev's icon, you'll see that there is a fourth, empty place at the table - an implicit invitation. Come and join us?

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Here's another gallery, this time some blurry photos of the final afternoon at this year's Workshop. What a lovely bunch of people! Thanks for some great times everybody.
I went cold turkey on my caffeine addiction yesterday. This was prompted by an incident on Sunday - I was taking a breather from Workshop and dropped into the Clapham Junction Costa for a latte. Enjoyed it, but as I got up was hit by a wave of dizziness and nausea that lasted for at least an hour. Not good. Decided to cut the ties.

So I spent yesterday in a sleepy headachy haze, dutifully sipping Redbush or mint tea. Went home, ate, lay down in bed slept for 11 hours. Feel a bit more normal this morning and managed to tough out my breakfast craving for a cup of tea. Hope this will get easier....

Monday, July 19, 2004

ConsimWorld is going to a subscription-based service. I've spent a lot of time over the years reading ConsimWorld postings, and occasionally contributing too, but I'm not sure I want to pay for the privilege. With BoardGameGeek thriving there are other ways to get the game info fix I crave.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Here's a new photo gallery of boardgamegeeky goings on at Hay-on-Wye last weekend.

(Oh great, now they've changed Blogger so that it frigs around with my HTML without my permission! That just about puts the tin hat on it. I hate Google and Yahoo. A plague on both your houses!)

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

I used to love my Oddpost account. It was so cool, and noone else knew about it, and it had the best spam-nailing algorith on the planet.

But from now on it's not Oddpost, it's Yahoo. And that's just not cool any more.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Well, NimrodCon has been and gone. Just got back, exhausted, and after gorging on Chinese takeaway food (were we just hungry or did I need to prove to myself that we are really back in a civilized country where you can get food after 5:30pm?) I am now ready to report how it went.

Pretty good really.

There was a strange syndome that affected Simon, Phil and myself, the symptoms of which were, after driving to an adjacent country to meet up with a bunch of boardgamers for a long weekend, the patient finds that he does not actually feel like playing boardgames. Sadly Simon did not recover from this. Phil managed a few rounds of Lord of the Ring: the Confrontation and Railway Rivals. And I confronted my disease head-on by playing Europe Engulfed (1942 scenario) with Dave. Eight hours hard graft, much of which, weirdly, was played before an audience. Quite a few of the company seemed to find it an enthralling spectator sport. At certain key moments, for example my big Summer 1943 offensives that sealed Dave's Stalingrad pocket forever, you could have heard a pin drop. Being watched really added to the pressure, and it was the most intense wargaming experience I've had for a while. Gratifyingly, I won. Launching a 1942 invasion in Belgium seems to be a workable - if hair-raising - approach.

Other highlights were enjoying Phil's wonderful cooking, walking the ridges of the Black Mountains in showery weather, and playing Zendo in pub (the excellent Kilvert Arms). Thanks to Dave, Nick, Danni, John, Steve, Robin, Simon, Phil and the Celtic Lodge for making it a great break.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

So now we know what to think about religion too. Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Guide to British religions:

Are you a Zoroastrian? What do Catholics, Sikhs and Hindus believe? Find out with our guide the main religions practised in the UK today. You can find guides, important dates and links simply by clicking on the religions below.

Nice idea, but you might pick up some odd ideas. For example, the Charismatic Renewal are very keen on celebrating Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, and Ascension Day for example. Really?? (Thanks Rob for the link)
Nice review of Memoir 44 at The Wargamer:

Old plastic army men never die; they just get lost under the couch. The army man is a resilient little figure that rarely fails to command the attention of young and old alike. Platoons of plastic have a way of drawing the eye and triggering an urge to make machine gun sounds; it’s practically a reflexive response for some.

It's a pain really - I had decided not to get this for a while in a bid to cut down expenditure on new games. But having read this rave review I've now got the cravings all over again....

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Very interesting review of Knizia's Blue Moon at the Games Journal:

Blue Moon effectively offers a game with the versatility of Magic, but with the wallet-crunching collectibility of those games tempered somewhat. While there has been considerable overlap between the worlds of board gamers and collectible card game (CCG) players, it is probably fair to say that there is a certain amount of antipathy towards trading card games from many players of 'German-style' games. The apparent rule that the CCG player who buys the most wins the most, and the need to purchase and trade to explore certain strategies or tactics, can seem bizarre. While I would argue that there are also many good points to such games, the clear influence of collectible card games on Blue Moon will add an interesting element to the debate, as this non-collectible game comes not just from the workshop of one of the most prolific of board game designers, but a man who is on record as a skeptic of the CCG format for games.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Finally, some substantial gaming to report. Phil came home on Saturday, and we started as we mean to go on with lots of two-player conflict, for example Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation. The Dark side kept winning, until at last Phil figured out how to win with the Good guys.

Then on Sunday I went over to the Alder Valley Games Society where I played some more LotR:tC (shamelessly pinching Phil's strategy insights) until more people turned up and I was introduced to RoboRally. What a great game, a really good idea cleanly implemented. I did terribly, managing to program myself down a ventilation shaft, with no help from my opponents - not once but twice. Really enjoyable fun.

I had much more mixed feelings about Duel of the Ages. Fiddly, fiddly, fiddly! The interlocking map boards were badly warped in David's (new) copy, making the clever jigsaw idea totally unworkable. Trying to manouevre the fiddly little player markers over this warped wobbly and disconnected surface was enough to raise anyone's blood pressure. (Just emphasises to me how far the Americans are behind Germany these days in game production standards.) OK the core mechanics - basically a skirmish wargame - are solid enough, but the weird scenario is very very strange, and seems to be totally unexplained in the rules booklet. What the heck is going on? Genghis Khan running around with a laser rifle taking pot shots at Annie Oakley?? What are these towers? What is going on with the labyrinths? What does it all mean?? Not convinced, though I might possibly play it again, especially if someone figures out how to flatten the playing surface.

Friday, July 02, 2004 -- Real-time Internet Wargaming!: is a website devoted to the real-time play of sophisticated boardgames over the Internet. Programs now available for BtB, EE, H:RC, PoG, UF, WtP, and WW

I downloaded and had a quick play with the Europe Engulfed module. OK it has a somewhat 1980s interface, but it's pretty amazing to be able to play a complex game like this online at all.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

I met up with an old schoolmate last night, a guy that I haven't seen for oh.... 28 years. We talked about all sorts of things of course, but along the way Laurence confirmed Phil's favourite theory, that "You need to get a dog, Dad. Chicks go for guys with a dog." Ironically Laurence, because he is a happily married family man, is in a position to own a dog, and reports that he has discovered this whole dog-walking subculture which apparently is rich in nice-looking women who think he is a great guy because he looks after his dog. Ironic isn't it that I, who actually need to meet these nice dog-walking girls, am not in a position to own a dog because of my single life-style.
OK I admit it - I've been exploring the Wizards of the Coast website, where I found this article with some good advice that is applicable to all kinds of boardgaming, not just Magic. Forgotten Lore: Mind Over Magic:

The great players all compete with discipline and mastery over their emotions. Any player can win if he or she gets a great draw, or if an opponent is mana-hosed. It takes a great player to overcome a poor draw to claim a victory. Within the playing community, there are many ways to describe various facets of this ability: the Jedi mind trick, the good-player draw, or most often, luck. What is seldom recognized is that good players seem to get lucky more often because of their inner game. First, they build their deck to minimize the impact of a lousy draw. Second, they play with calm discipline even when things aren't going their way. Again, the focus is not on the almighty win, but on being wholly present in the game. The distinction might be a fine one, but I believe it holds nonetheless.